The Network’s Waterside Chat online discussion series connects people who depend on healthy oceans and fisheries with the issues that directly affect them and their communities. In each edition, Network Deputy Director Tom Sadler talks with guests about current ocean policy and fisheries management topics and what policy decisions mean for people’s livelihoods, communities, recreation, and coastal ways of life.
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- Watch previous Waterside Chats below
January 23rd, 2024: Melanie Brown of SalmonState
SalmonState’s Melanie Brown joined the Marine Fish Conservation Network for an online Waterside Chat on January 23rd, 2024. Melanie fishes commercially in Bristol Bay in Alaska, the fourth generation of her family to make a living on the water. In her role as outreach director at SalmonState, Melanie builds spheres of influence to address marine policy challenges. In a conversation that started with a poem and ended with a song, Melanie and host Tom Sadler talked about:
- The status of the Pebble Mine fight, which now moves to a federal district court, though Melanie hopes for an eventual legislative solution
- How she was born into a fishing family, with her great-great grandfather still fishing when she started at ten years old (she got her permit from him when he retired) and her children following her
- Her work with SalmonState, which grew out of Trout Unlimited’s original organizing against Pebble Mine and now covers other issues in the Bering Sea and waters around Alaska, particularly bycatch
- How the Pebble Fight brought together sport fishing interests, commercial fishing interests and Alaska’s First People around protecting Bristol Bay
- How mining development in Canada threatens U.S. waters, because “everything flows downstream”
- The status of Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization, plus the work to derail a late Trump administration rule that would open 28 million acres of land to mining and oil & gas exploration
- How wild salmon and other species including caribou play a big role in feeding people in Alaska, particularly the state’s First People
Mentioned in this episode:
December 13, 2023: Kevin Scribner, Fisherman, Poet and Advocate
Kevin Scribner joined the Marine Fish Conservation Network in December 2023 for an online Waterside Chat with host Tom Sadler. Affectionally known as “Scribfish” by friends and colleagues, Kevin is a fisherman, poet, and advocate known for his eclectic and wide-ranging interests related to marine resource issues. Kevin and Tom covered a lot of ground (and water), including:
- How “if you are what you eat”, Kevin has become a salmon many times over
- How salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest are hurt by bad management practices on dry land (“What runs off the land is how the land talks to the water”)
- How to work with landowners in a market-based program to improve their practices and help them earn a “Salmon Safe” designation
- How this model can be applied to other species and other places, which is why he’s recently been working with fishermen in Japan and Hawaii
- How using local resources to solve local problems can help keep food systems (and people!) working during times of duress
- Why you have to be a dreamer and an optimist to keep fishing
Listen to the full conversation to hear about these topics and much more!
Mentioned in this Chat:
September 22, 2023: Joel Johnson of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
Joel Johnson, the President and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, joined the Marine Fish Conservation Network and host Tom Sadler for an online Waterside Chat on September 22, 2023. The foundation is a leading voice for U.S. protected waters, working with communities to conserve and expand those special places for a healthy ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. The foundation safeguards species and the places they call home, and preserves America’s maritime history.
Among many other topics, Joel and Tom talked about:
- How marine sanctuaries are sources of solutions to conservation and climate problems, not museum pieces.
- How sanctuaries historically left out the people and communities around the sanctuary, and how that situation is changing in places like sanctuaries in Hawaii and the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary in California.
- How recreational fishing, commercial fishing, boating, kayaking and many more activities continue inside sanctuaries, and how a Great Lakes marine sanctuary essentially saved a coastal town.
- Why recreation is the “front door to the whole house,” introducing people to how much there is to learn and experience inside sanctuaries.
- How the foundation supports the sanctuary designation process, by helping local communities navigate the process, helps to spreading attention about nominations, convening meetings involving stakeholders and rights-holders and much more.
July 19, 2023: Jean Flemma
Jean Flemma, co-founder of the Urban Ocean Lab and director of the Ocean Defense Initiative, joined the Network for an online Waterside Chat on July 19, 2023. Jean is a long-time policy hand and, as host Tom Sadler described her, “important and very wise counsel on ocean policy”. Their conversation covered a range of issues related to oceans and climate change, focusing on actions by the Biden administration and the Blueprint for Ocean Climate Action.
Among many other topics, Jean and Tom discussed:
- Why our food supply, coastal communities, coral reefs and more are threatened as the ocean warms and acidifies
- Why if we want a livable planet for our children, we can no longer kick the climate can down the road
- The Biden administration’s commitment to addressing climate change’s effects on our oceans, and how they are following through on it, including historic sums allocated for coastal-community resilience, electrification of ports and much more
- Why NMFS needs to be doing a lot more to support fisheries managers in addressing the challenges climate change presents to our fisheries
- How the Ocean Defense Initiative focuses on the idea of amplifying ocean issues, to help them break through with decision-makers
- How Blueprint for Ocean Climate Action was crowdsourced from a wide swath of advocates, scientists and activists
June 21, 2023: Andrianna Natsoulas
Andrianna Natsoulas joined host Tom Sadler on June 21, 2023 for to talk about aquaculture, sustainable seafood and more. The campaign director for Don’t Cage Our Oceans, Andrianna is also the author of “Food Voices: Stories from the People Who Feed Us.”
In a wide-ranging conversation, Tom and Andrianna talked about:
- Don’t Cage Our Oceans’ approach to open-ocean aquaculture policy and advocacy
- Why Don’t Cage Our Oceans argues that open-ocean, fin-fish aquaculture is neither economical nor sustainable
- The downsides of open-ocean fin-fish farms, from nitrogen and carbon pollution to antibiotic releases and risks to marine mammals
- The comparison between open-ocean fish farms and factory farms on land
- The need for fish-farming practices that are embedded in social, economic, and environmental values — projects that provide nutritious fish to local residents, support the environment, and bring coastal communities more opportunities
May 31, 2023: Brad Warren of Global Ocean Health
Brad Warren, president of Global Ocean Health, joined host Tom Sadler of the Marine Fish Conservation Network on May 31, 2023 for an online Waterside Chat. Global Ocean Health is based around the idea that when the “health of the ocean itself is threatened, the strongest champions are people who depend on it for a living.” Brad and host Tom Sadler talked about:
- How the seeing salmon reduced to a shadow of their former abundance – and size – motivated him and so many others to take action.
- Why melting glaciers and ocean acidification are bad news for fish populations, and how fish losses from heat and drought are a direct and visible result of climate change.
- How frontline food producers can see the unraveling of the ecosystems that make us dinner.
- The power of fishermen speaking directly to Congress about the threat to their livelihoods and their ability to feed the rest of us.
- How Global Ocean Health is working with tribal nations to address climate change.
- Why the tribal ethic of multi-generational stewardship is essential to helping restore the ocean, atmosphere, and land balance.
- How Global Ocean Health, helps seafood producers, resource-dependent communities and scientists understand climate change, document its consequences, and protect fishery resources and ecosystems.
April 26, 2023: Eric Brazer of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance
Eric Brazer joined host Tom Sadler for a Waterside Chat on April 26th, 2023. Eric is the deputy director of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, a member of the Network’s Policy Council, and a voice on behalf of science-based management of Gulf Red Snapper and other species. Among many other things, Eric and Tom discussed:
- How despite years of fisheries conservation successes, the Gulf is telling us it’s in trouble. Populations of fish such as gag grouper have declined to their lowest level on record, prompting huge cuts in fishing quotas.
- The need for ecosystem management rather than managing individual species in isolation.
- The need for fisheries managers to have experience in fisheries management or on the water. The Gulf management council has more people named “Bob” serving on it right now than it does actual commercial fishermen.
- How the Alliance’s Quota Bank that helps reduce red snapper discards in the eastern Gulf by holding participants to a high standard of accountability in a market-based system.
- The Alliance’s policy work to support good science and data, to educate regional and federal regulators, and to play an active role in shaping our commercial fishing regulations.
- Their work with the Gulf Wild brand program, supporting a seafood traceability program built by fishermen for fishermen.
- How the Alliance fosters the next generation of conservation-minded fishermen.
- The complex effects of climate change on Gulf fish populations.
Mentioned in this episode:
April 19, 2023: Bob Rees of the Northwest Guides and Anglers Association
Bob Rees of the Northwest Guides and Anglers Association joined Waterside Chat host Tom Sadler on April 19, 2023 to talk about salmon, steelhead and conservation in the Pacific Northwest. Among many topics, they discussed:
- How climate change and forest-clearing have raised water temperatures in many streams to the point that juvenile salmonids cannot thrive and often can’t survive at all. Fish are a forest product, like timber, and forest management needs to take their survival into account.
- How the Snake River Dams have damaged or destroyed salmon runs that local communities have relied on for many years.
- How fishing guides and others whose livelihoods depend on healthy stocks of salmon and steelhead are working together to change public policy around fisheries and conservation.
- Why even an email or a letter to a legislator or the Board of Forestry can make a difference.
- Tips for fishing in Oregon waters this year.
Mentioned in this episode:
- Northwest Guides and Anglers Association
- The Association of Northwest Steelheaders
- Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association
- Team Spicy biggest fish winner video
February 28, 2023: Justin Zeulner of The Wave Foundation
The Wave Foundation Founder and President Justin Zeulner joined host Tom Sadler for a Waterside Chat on February 28, 2023, about The Wave’s large-scale approaches to food programs around equity, environmental stewardship, diversity and resilience, with an emphasis on local production and healthy communities. As Justin says, “It’s all about the food system”.
The organization’s big goals involve systemic change in the ways we feed ourselves as a society, but The Wave pivoted during Covid to providing services in the Pacific Northwest, particularly to rural and tribal communities not being effectively served by food banks and other traditional interventions. The Wave distributed eight million pounds of healthy, sustainably grown and culturally appropriate food in two years of the pandemic, including food boxes based around Alaska salmon or tribal-caught Columbia River salmon and filled out with other products grown locally in the Northwest.
The food box program and The Wave’s work to introduce locally and sustainably grown ingredients to sports arenas and other large public venues have had ripple effects, since a commitment to purchase allowed farmers to invest in capacity and grow their operations. Learn more about how Justin’s time as a pioneering snowboarder sparked his interest in conservation, and how his experience with Paul Allen and the Green Sports Alliance helped The Wave come together.
The Marine Fish Conservation Network’s Waterside Chat series connects people who depend on healthy oceans and fisheries with the issues that directly affect them and their communities. Each episode the Network’s Deputy Director Tom Sadler talks with different guests about ocean policy and fisheries management topics. He engages them in genuine and thoughtful conversations about what policy decisions mean for people’s livelihoods, communities, recreation, and coastal ways of life.
January 24, 2023: Brian Bennett of Moldy Chum and Tomorrow’s Fish
Moldy Chum publisher Brian Bennett joined host Tom Sadler for a Waterside Chat on January 24, 2023. Among many other things, these two fishing buddies discussed:
- How focusing on “sustainable maximum recreation” could put more fish in coolers and disarm the most extreme voices on all sides of the management debate.
- What the Tomorrow’s Fish campaign is and why it matters.
- Why we must make climate change part of every aspect of fisheries management.
- Why anglers must take the lead in advocating for management that adapts to climate, since they see the changes on the water themselves.
To Brian, 21st-century anglers must invest in helping to protect the resources they enjoy. For example, if you think the regulatory agency isn’t doing its job, you should be putting time into helping to make the agency better. Check out the full conversation for more.
December 8, 2022: Dan Kent and Brian Muegge of Salmon-Safe
Dan Kent and Brian Muegge of the organization Salmon-Safe joined host Tom Sadler for a Waterside Chat on December 8, 2022. Tom and guests talked about:
- How Salmon-Safe certification involves setting science-based standards for sites in watersheds in the Pacific Northwest, then working with growers, golf courses, construction projects, tech campuses, urban park systems and others to help them put fish-friendly practices into place.
- How the Salmon-Safe team makes sure the standards reflect the latest science around factors such as pesticide use, soil conservation, biodiversity and sediment runoff, with a singular focus on water quality and watershed impacts.
- Why companies are looking to source from Salmon-Safe certified farms, and how farmers can offset the costs of Salmon-Safe certification.
- How Salmon Safe’s collaborative approach can be applied globally to protect trout, coral reefs and everything in between. Their work is based on partnerships.
- How companies such as Copperworks Distillery have built successful – and tasty – marketing campaigns around their Salmon-Safe certification (and where you can buy your Copperworks Salmon-Safe certified whiskey).
Plus a few fishing tales along the way. Enjoy! Oh, about that whiskey….
November 9, 2022: Vicki Nichols Goldstein of the Inland Oceans Coalition
On November 9th, Vicki Nichols Goldstein of the Inland Oceans Coalition joined host Tom Sadler of the Marine Fish Conservation Network for a Waterside Chat. Vicki and Tom discussed:
- What land-to-sea stewardship means, and why you don’t have to see the ocean to protect it.
- How we all have a direct impact on the cycles of life in the ocean, no matter where we live.
- Vicki’s extensive background in ocean conservation, which has informed her work with stakeholders including fishermen and the fishing industry.
- How the Coalition gives inland communities a voice in protecting our ocean by empowering them to become ocean champions in their communities. Inland communities and the ocean are directly connected, and the Coalition works to turn those connections into action for greater ocean and water conservation.
- How the Coalition connects them with their legislative leaders and decisionmakers.
- How the Coalition connects with unlikely allies such as farmers, who share an interest in water health. Sustainable oceans, sustainable land!
- How partnerships have extended the Coalition’s reach to 26 countries.
September 28, 2022: Fishing Guide and AFFTA Executive Director Lucas Bissett
In this Waterside Chat episode, Capt. Lucas Bissett joined host Tom Sadler on September 28, 2022. Lucas is the executive director of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, and he’s also an award winning saltwater fly-fishing guide, a member of the Marine Fish Conservation Network’s National Policy Council and a stalwart conservation advocate. Lucas and Tom – old friends and fellow fishing guides – talked about:
- Why fly fishing is such a central part of Lucas’s life, going back to his childhood in Louisiana
- How Louisiana – which loses a football field of land to the sea every 100 minutes – is the poster child for the devastating effects humans can have on an environment
- How the Black Mangrove Project, which Lucas founded, has blossomed into something far larger than him
- Why it’s impossible to have any conversation around a marine or freshwater fishery without talking climate change
- Why we need to include climate-change components into all of our fisheries management regimes
- How fly-fishing can unite us past the partisan squabbles. Once you experience a day of fishing with someone, he says, that person becomes a real friend
Lucas also highlighted Tomorrow’s Fish, an AFFTA project that “contextualize the importance of engaging in saltwater fisheries conservation”. Watch the episode to learn about this project and much more.
August 24, 2022: Alaĝum Kanuux, the Proposed Heart of the Ocean Marine Sanctuary off Alaska
On August 24, 2022, Waterside Chat host Tom Sadler was joined by Marissa Merculieff, director of the Office of Justice and Governance Administration for the Aleut Community of Saint Paul Island, and Lauren Divine, director of the Ecosystem Conservation Office for the Tribal Government of Saint Paul Island.
Tom and his guests talked about Alaĝum Kanuux (Heart of the Ocean) and the potential for this marine sanctuary in the Bering Sea off Alaska, including a historic co-management agreement between the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island and the federal government to establish co-equal governance and decision making for the sanctuary. Among many other topics, they discussed:
- The importance of the local community’s voice driving in the sanctuary nomination
- How the Aleut people’s history of forced migration, slavery and forced labor on the Pribilof Islands have shaped their approach to Alaĝum Kanuux’s proposal to co-manage the sanctuary with the federal government
- The powerful relationship local residents have with the region’s fur seals, whose population is unfortunately declining
- The islands’ boat-building heritage
- The importance of fishing to the islands, including the local long-line, small-boat commercial halibut fishing fleet
- How bycatch can shut down a whole fishery
- The economic and conservation implications of the resources and prominence that come with a sanctuary designation
July 27, 2022: Jen Levin of True Fin
Jen Levin, the president of sustainable seafood supplier True Fin, joined Waterside Chat host Tom Sadler on Wednesday, July 27th for a lively and wide-ranging conversation about the seafood industry in the Gulf of Maine and much more. They discussed:
- How True Fin buys directly from more than 35 fishing boats in three states
- How high-quality fish-handling processes open new markets for seafood from the Gulf of Maine
- What the Japanese word ikejime means and why it’s relevant to their work
- How climate change is altering Gulf of Maine ecosystems, and why it means that the fishing industry needs to diversify into areas like under-utilized fin fish. Could lobsters eventually disappear from the Gulf?
- How new approaches could help smaller fisheries compete with massive seafood imports
May 25, 2022: The Latest on Bristol Bay and Pebble Mine
- The EPA’s May 25th announcement of a proposed determination to prohibit and restrict the use of certain waters in the Bristol Bay watershed as disposal sites for the discharge of dredged or fill material associated with mining under Clean Water Act Section 404(c)
- Background on the Bristol Bay watershed, which supports some of the richest salmon fisheries on the planet, along with the people and wildlife who depend on them
- The threat posed by the proposed Pebble Mine
- Concrete actions you can take to help protect this vital resource and national treasure
April 20, 2022: Rick Crawford
Rick Crawford joined Waterside Chat host Tom Sadler in April 2020. Rick is the creator and host of The Sustainable Angler, an award-winning podcast, and founder of the Fly Fishing Climate Alliance. They talked about:
- Rick’s love of the Low Country, and how his concern for his children’s future there drives his work. In his eyes, addressing climate change is fundamentally conservative.
- The everyday effects of a changing climate he sees in Charleston, South Carolina, including sunny-day flooding and changes in the tides.
- How he helps companies make the business case for sustainability.
- How fly fishing guides, shops, lodges and brands can be a model for other industries if the move to net-zero carbon emissions.
March 16, 2022: Chef Dana Honn
Listen as Chef Dana Honn, chef-owner of Carmo in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, Louisiana talks with the Network’s Tom Sadler about seafood, fish sourcing, the culinary world and his involvement in marine resource advocacy. Among many other topics, they discussed:
- How “origin-to-table” goes beyond “farm-to-table,” and why it’s important to know the traditions behind what’s on your plate.
- Why it is important to know your suppliers, from fishermen to distributors.
- The pros and cons of serving up roughly 85 different species of seafood in Chef Honn’s restaurant. (Most restaurants rotate among 10 different species on average.)
- Why improving seafood sustainability depends on building a stronger community.
- The secret to cooking good fish at home. (Hint: Aretha Franklin sang about it.)
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
January 21, 2022: Linda Behnken
Our first Waterside Chat guest, Linda Behnken, has fished the waters off Alaska her entire adult life. She is executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) and co-chair of the Marine Fish Conservation Network’s Policy Council. The Network’s Deputy Director Tom Sadler talked with Linda about her experience fishing in Alaska, her work with ALFA and her thoughts on the impact of climate change on fisheries management and fishing communities.
Watch the video to learn:
- Why policy discussions should not be climate vs. jobs, but instead about climate AND jobs.
- Why Alaska is ground zero for climate change, and what Linda recommends the Biden administration do to ensure climate policy keeps pace with the changes she sees all around her.
- How shifting fish stocks are impacting Alaska’s Indigenous cultures and economies.
- How Linda’s sons are becoming part of the next generation of fishermen, and what ALFA and others are doing to ensure they carry the conservation torch and have a prosperous commercial fishing future.
- And much more.